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Keep Your Implants Clean to Avoid a Damaging Gum Infection

KeepYourImplantsCleantoAvoidaDamagingGumInfection

After years battling disease, your troubled tooth reached its useful life's end. It's been extracted, and we've replaced it with a life-like dental implant. So now, as far as the implant goes, disease is no longer an issue…right?

Sorry, no—though not to the same degree as a natural tooth, an implant could be endangered by gum disease. Although the implant's materials can't be infected, the supporting gums and bone can.

In fact, there's a particular type of gum disease associated with implants known as peri-implantitis (“peri” around an implant; “itis” inflammation) that first affects the gums surrounding an implant. Although peri-implantitis can arise from an excess of dental cement used to affix the crown to the implant, it most commonly starts like other forms of gum disease with dental plaque.

Dental plaque, and its hardened form calculus (tartar), is a thin, bacterial biofilm that builds up on teeth surfaces. It can quickly accumulate if you don't remove it every day with proper brushing and flossing. The bacteria living in plaque can infect the outer gum tissues and trigger inflammation.

Gum disease around natural teeth can spread quickly, but even more so with implants. That's because the natural attachment of the gums helps supply antibodies that impede infection. Implants, relying solely on their connection with the bone, don't have those gum attachments. As a result, peri-implantitis can move rapidly into the supporting bone, weakening the implant to the point of failure.

The good news, though, is that peri-implantitis can be treated successfully through aggressive plaque removal and antibiotics. But the key to success is to catch it early before it progresses too far—which is why you should see your dentist at the first sign of gum swelling, redness or bleeding.

You can also prevent peri-implantitis by practicing daily brushing and flossing, including around your dental implant. You should also see your dentist twice a year (or more, if they advise) for cleanings and checkups.

Dental implants overall have a greater than 95% success rate, better than any other tooth restoration system. But they still need daily care and regular cleanings to ensure your implants are on the positive side of those statistics.

If you would like more information on caring for your dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

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  • "My family has experienced some less-than-ideal dentistry in the past, and we are so glad we found Dr. Shields! He has a great 'bedside manner' & the most up-to date methods. Two thumbs up!"
    Lisa
  • "Dr. Shields & his staff are focused on quality, personal dental care & go out of their way to accommodate the needs of their patients, whether routine care or emergencies. They also do first rate dental work. I highly recommend them."
    Bruce
  • "I trust no one more than I trust no one more than Dr. Mike for my oral care. I have been to many dentists, etc. and Dr. Shields is a first amongst equals.Dr. Mike for my oral care. I have been to many dentists, etc. and Dr. Shields is a first amongst equals."
    Jack D.
  • "Dr. Shields takes great care with his patients. I’ve only been going to him for a year and have already appreciated his skill and professionalism, along with his gentle manner. I look forward to many years of great dental care."
    Beth
  • "Can’t wait to see if Tamie Notices any difference after my whitening! Great job to Dr. Shields and his staff."
    Brian